The importance of protesting

Iowa student steals the show at Governor’s Scholar Award Ceremony


Kushi Maridu

A high school senior wore a shirt that read “I READ BANNED BOOKS” to protest against Governor Kim Reynold’s actions to ban certain books.

Kushi Maridu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Sunday, April 30, 422 academically high achieving seniors across Iowa received the Iowa Governor’s Scholar Award from Governor Kim Reynolds. At this ceremony, one highschooler yelled out “Trans rights are human rights!” on stage after shaking Reynolds’ hand, followed by applause and cheers.

Reynolds recently signed two bills that severely limit the rights of transgender minors in the state of Iowa. Senate File 538 restricts medical professionals from providing vital gender-affirming care to individuals under 18. Senate File 482 denies transgender students the right to utilize school bathrooms or changing rooms aligned with their gender identities. 

These new Iowa laws are part of a wider conservative push to limit the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those who are transgender. Advocates argue these laws ensure children’s restroom safety and prevent minors from making potentially regrettable medical choices. To fight this, high schooler Clementine Springsteen seized her opportunity and took action against what she thought was unfair.

Springsteen is a transgender student who attends Davenport West, a school in the vicinity of Pleasant Valley High School. Originally not planning to travel to Des Moines to receive the award, she changed her mind after realizing she can use the ceremony as a platform to take a stand. Her protest became immortalized after it gained popularity on TikTok and Twitter, garnering a tremendous amount of support.

After the event went viral on social media, Springsteen has continued to voice her opinions.

“As a transgender person, I’ve seen my community continuously hurt and broken down by the laws passed in this state and others, and I, like many others, am tired of it. I’m tired of my right to exist as my authentic self being stripped away by ignorant people who have no idea what it’s like to wake up everyday and feel so uncomfortable in their own bodies. That is why I did what I did,” Springsteen shared.

Springsteen believes her protests are only a small part of a larger movement that should take place, and she believes things will take a turn for the better only once more people start taking action. Other students took to protesting at the event as well: some students wore shirts that read “I READ BANNED BOOKS” and “PUBLIC MONEY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.”

With individuals like Springsteen taking action, the future of politics may have hope. “I fear for the immediate future, but I have hope for the long run. I, as well as many others, intend to run for office when we are of age and change the laws that are currently in place. The government is currently run by people who are out of touch with what life is like for their constituents and only keep their corporate interests in mind when introducing bills and passing laws. We hope to change that,” Springsteen continued.

Springsteen’s optimism about the future of protesting is not isolated. All over the world, protests have been more prominent as people are becoming aware that their governments don’t represent them. Fighting for fundamental human rights is an unfortunate reality, but a challenge that many people are willing to take on.

PV English teacher Robyn Samuelson believes there has been an increase in the number of protests but more people need to step up. “Protesting is really important because we are a democracy and it’s one of our fundamental rights. We can’t let the government step all over us,” Samuelson shared.

Following the school shooting in Tennessee in early April, nearly 10,000 adults and students showed up to the state House to protest. Their state government took actions to “protect” children from gay books, transgender people, drag shows and abortions, so the protestors wanted to raise awareness to something that endangers significantly more children: guns.

This protest led to the expulsion of two Tennessee Democrats that supported the protestors in this event. Although the representatives were later reinstated, the aftermath of this gathering sparked national outrage. Vice President Kamala Harris made a visit to Tennessee to express her support for the assault weapons ban. President Joe Biden and Former President Barack Obama also expressed their discontent with the Tennessee House.

The United States is not the only place experiencing such protests. Currently, tens of thousands of citizens in France are taking to the streets to object President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform.

As democratic countries, both France and the United States protect the citizens’ rights to assemble and protest. Protesting serves an integral part of any democracy, allowing citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s actions, policies and laws. By peacefully demonstrating their concerns, members of a democracy have the right to advocate for change and demand their voice be heard.

Once a protest gains momentum, it is shocking how fast it can snowball into a larger movement. Springsteen was content with the moments following her words after she was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. 

“I think the response is mostly in line with what I expected, given that a good portion of [the audience] was filled with the best and brightest of Iowa’s youth. I think that we’re all tired of the government working against us instead of for us, and that it was a breath of fresh air to see someone such as myself call the governor out for her actions,” Springsteen concluded.

Since the event, Springsteen has been in contact with multiple news outlets, sharing her story and advocating for change in Iowa and around the world.

Samuelson saw Springsteen’s protest on a new site and was impressed with what she did. “It takes a lot of courage to do that in front of everyone present at the ceremony,” Samuelson shared.

Springsteen’s protest serves as a reminder of the power of raising one’s voice, inspiring others to join in the fight for equality and justice. As part of a democratic society, it is essential for individuals like Springsteen to stand up against unjust laws and policies, sparking conversations and mobilizing others to take action towards creating a more inclusive and equitable future for all.